Getting the lives of troubled families back on track
Published: Monday 24th June 13
Ministers have today (Monday) highlighted the success of Wandsworth Council’s work in getting the lives of troubled families back on track with an announcement that an extra £200m is to be spent on providing intensive support to 40,000 high risk families nationwide.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles made the funding announcement during a visit to Wandsworth's multi-agency Family Recovery Project, which has successfully turned around nearly a third of its troubled families.
This is estimated to be saving taxpayers an average of £29,000 a year for each family involved in the programme.
This saving to the public purse comes from reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour, a fall in the number of children that need to be taken into care, fewer visits to A&E, fewer interventions from the police and the courts and by getting adults off benefits and back into work.
Since the Wandsworth pilot was set up two years ago, 198 of the borough's most troubled families have seen their lives improved and turned around. The council will ultimately be working with around 660 families as part of the Government's initiative.
The programme works by assigning a dedicated worker to engage with a whole family on all of its problems, such as ensuring that the children attend school, appointments are met and appropriate services are accessed. Crucially, all of the public services involved with members of a family are coordinated and the demand on them reduced.
This allows different agencies to work together in a much more co-ordinated way to tackle the root cause of problems rather than just the symptoms.
Speaking during today's visit Mr Alexander said: "The Troubled Families programme is a radical example of how, by spending a bit more in certain areas, we can save much more in others and by doing so create a stronger economy and a fairer society. Extending this intensive help to 400,000 more families will enable us to tackle problems such as truancy, anti-social behaviour and crime.
Mr Pickles said: "The groundbreaking Troubled Families programme being run by local authorities is on track to turn around the lives of 120,000 families by 2015 and reduce the burden they put on the taxpayer for the long term. It does so by taking a no-nonsense approach with families and a common sense approach to changing the way services are run."
And Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia added: "This investment enables frontline staff to really engage with troubled families and support them in turning their lives around. Nipping problems in the bud before they can develop into far more serious social problems is the key and this new round of government funding is recognition of the good work that is being done to get people's lives back on track."